Rossellini. Rossellini is one half of the Truffaut/Godard of Italian Neorealism movement with De Sica and I’m not sure there’s a Bicycle Thieves without Rossellini. Rossellini is the Godfather and unofficial founder of Italian neo-realism (though realism has always been a part of cinema with expressionism).  Visconti has some claim to that as well with Ossessione but if I had to put one person’s face on that movement it would be Rossellini with the war trilogy: Rome, Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero. These three films are amongst the greatest of the entire 1940’s.

Best film: – Rome, Open City.  It just smacked people across the face in 1945 and helped served as alternative to Hollywood.  It may seem like just a drama by today’s standards of realism (from Kiarostami to the Dardenne brothers) but it’s a wonderful drama.

from Rome, Open – along with the closing of De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves-the defining image of Italian Neorealim

total archiveable films: 10

top 100 films: 0

top 500 films: 4 (Rome, Open City, Germany Year Zero, Journey to Italy, Paisan)

top 100 films of the decade:  6 (Rome, Open City, Paisan, Germany Year Zero, Journey to Italy, Il Generale Della Rovere, The Flowers of St. Francis)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is general-rossellini-poster.jpg
a strong 15 year-run by Rossellini going from 1945-1960

most overrated:  Journey to Italy. The TSPDT consensus has it at #73 and I’m at #299 so there is a disconnect here.  I really like the film and still have work to do on it with subsequent visits but I have to call this one overrated at this point.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is journey-to-italy-rossellini-car-1024x576.jpg
using realistic barriers in Journey to Italy
war-ravaged Europe as a metaphor for marriage in Journey to Italy

most underrated:  Germany Year Zero.  It’s devastating and the gloomiest Italian neorealist film I’ve seen. I love both films so this is no insult but if this came out before Rome, Open City think this would be regarded as the better film of the two. The TSPDT consensus has it at #226 and I’m at #199.

Germany Year Zero- hauntingly tragic — Rossellini would make use of natural set piece war rubble and ruin

gem I want to spotlight:  Paisan. I’m not as studied on Rossellini as say like Altman or Ozu but at this point I do think more of his 1940’s war trilogy than his 1950’s Ingrid Bergman films. This could change with time but for now I’m spotlighting this film which is “Chillingly blunt, doggedly unsentimental, and emotionally overwhelming”- cinepassion.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is paisan-movie-poster-rossellini-728x1024.jpg
Rossellini’s war trilogy- one of cinema’s landmark runs during the 1940’s

stylistic innovations/traits:   Rossellini does brilliant work with natural set pieces and the rubble and ruins caused by WWII. He favored long shots, open endings (often unhappy endings), deglamorizing the myth of Hollywood. He was beloved by the Cahiers critics for telling his story through photography (Bazan)/realism and is endlessly influential to world cinema and indie cinema especially (to the tradition carried on by the Dardenne’s today).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is germany-year-zero-rossellini-piano-adholkifja-1024x775.jpg
sublime imagery here in Germany Year Zero

top 10

  1. Rome, Open City
  2. Germany Year Zero
  3. Journey to Italy
  4. Paisan
  5. Il Generale Della Rovere
  6. The Flowers of St. Francis
  7. Stromboli
  8. The Rise of Louis XIV
  9. Fear
  10. Escape by Night
more than a decade before Leone would use this shot in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly– this is one of the strongest of the husband wife collaboration between Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman in Stromboli

By year and grades

1945- Rome, Open City MP
1946- Paisan MS
1947- Germany Year Zero MP
1950- The Flowers of St. Francis HR
1950- Stromboli HR
1954- Journey to Italy MS
1954- Fear R
1959- Il Generale Della Rovere HR
1960- Escape By Night R
1966- The Rise of Louis XIV R

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives